Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dreamgirls, More

So, yeah, I really enjoyed "Dreamgirls." It helped seeing it in a big crowded theater on the Friday start of a three day weekend, with people in the mood to enjoy themselves. (Except for the crying baby, who was clearly not in the mood for anything but reminding her mother that dark loud movie theaters are not the ideal environment for infants. In case her mother didn't see the glares in the seats around her. Fortunately for me, she was far enough away to be just a minor annoyance rather than an experience-killer.)

It's not a perfect movie, and once I escaped the theater and the spell cast by Jennifer Hudson, I thought of how much in the film is skipped, avoided, or unsaid. Yeah, you know I generally don't enjoy rushing through major plot points, but I'm not sure it really hurts here. Too many scenes with Beyonce's and Jamie Foxx's characters falling for each other would have dragged the film down - there's something refreshing about how much is simply done in shorthand, as if the filmmaker acknowledges the audience's intelligence at being able to put the pieces together. I didn't really mind any of that, which is unusual. It can be a little exhausting: you're on the fast train and you get to your destination still energized and engaged, so does it matter what you missed blurring past you in the window?

Jennifer Hudson's role is so dynamic, so emotional, that it is easily the heart of the film. I'm not knocking her talent, but the material is really strong and I can't imagine it not taking center stage. She just knocks it right out of the park. There are a few moments when it's almost painful to watch her, she is so raw and intense. Even Beyonce couldn't shine bright enough to tip the balance - the musical is designed to make you root for Effie even as you manage to feel sympathy, and then respect, for Deena.

Of course there is the whole meta experience of watching Hudson lose her chance at stardom because she's not thin or white-acting enough (a theory which only falls apart slightly when you realize she lost on "American Idol" the season that Fantasia, another woman without mainstream pop appeal, won.) And of course, there is Beyonce playing the lead singer of a group of three women, one of whom is replaced by someone named Michelle, the same name as a once controversial replacement in Destiny's Child. (The audience tittered when her name was announced.) You also can't help but imagine that Beyonce feels a bit like Deena (the pop star who may be more manufactured than talented) with all the attention that Jennifer Hudson is getting for this film. (I did read one interview where she claimed that she would've wanted to play the Effie role, but couldn't gain enough weight. Ouch. Hopefully that was an anomaly, because I think in general Beyonce seems like a talented and level-headed young woman.) Of course, to mix it up even more, Beyonce is being positioned in the lead actress category, and Jennifer in the supporting. Hmmm. Jennifer Holliday, the Broadway Effie, won a Tony for Best Lead Actress.

I can see why everybody keeps talking about how great Eddie Murphy is. I think it's the surprise at seeing a brilliant comedian able to successfully tackle a dramatic role (with singing and dancing!) I liked him, but maybe I'd like his performance more if I didn't remember when he was in better roles than "Dr. Doolittle 2" and "Daddy Day Care." I did really like the actor playing C.C., who turns out to have been on "American Dreams" (which I never watched) and, more interestingly, played a Power Ranger. (The green one, in case you are curious.)

This is definitely the kind of movie you can watch over and over, because it's about the music, and the more you watch the more you want to hear it again. Which is another way of saying I will likely see it in the theater again sometime.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dream a tiny bit

That last one ended abruptly, sorry. I was fixated on getting out of the office and to the theater in time for the next showing of Dreamgirls. I succeeded.

And it was a really great movie. More when my brain is better engaged, but I can say that I'd be surprised if anyone could keep from crying when Jennifer Hudson sang "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going." Heart-wrenching.

Last Friday of 2006

I'm feeling more than a little nauseous right now. Not good. I spent the last couple of hours cleaning out files and my desk at work; I have one conference call and then lunch plans and then an agreement among the few of us here today that we're skedaddling right after. I really was looking forward to sushi (not so much right now) and stopping by J&R on the way home (yes, I'm still pricing computers - my USB issues resurfaced this morning, so my "fix" was apparently temporary. Waiting for Gateway support to respond with any other suggestions.) I don't want to start a 3 day weekend feeling sick.

* * *

I'm watching season one of Project Runway through Netflix. I missed the first season, although I can't fathom why, since it's right in my sweet spot: a reality show in which contestants have to use actual talent/skills to succeed. (Not that all of the winners in this sub-genre are always the most talented, but it's a far cry from Big Brother or The Bachelor or any of those other stupid shows where the only talent any of the participants possess is a willingness to make out in front of the camera or show their blurred naughty bits.) Of course, once I started with season two, I became addicted, so have always been interested in going back to the first. It's especially fun now, because the boys at Project Rungay are watching the episodes and blogging them, so it doesn't feel like I'm that late to the party. (Project Rungay, by the way, is how I found out about the Tim Gunn bobble head doll, which now has a place of honor on my desk.)

* * *

I made it to lunch since the earlier portion of this post; sushi and wine went down fine. Now it's barely 3 pm and the office has cleared out. I am looking up times for movies, because that's how I want to spend the rest of the day. Dreamgirls! 4:15! I'm outta here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Maybe not entirely fixed. Turns out that only one USB port was functioning, but that was after just 30 minutes without power. So I disconnected the power cord and battery and left it sitting all day while I'm at work. Hopefully all USB ports will be working when I return home!

I am not crazy.

I knew my computer issues were not due to software or driver problems, but something related to power. After all, it first happened after the power suddenly shut down and all went black. So, still without the energy to sit through a full system recovery, I googled my error message to find non-Microsoft message boards that might have user solutions. Voila! about a dozen people, reporting the same problem, followed one guy's experimental solution: unplug the power cord, take out the battery, and let it all sit for at least 30 minutes. Plug all back in and power up. This has something to do with draining the power from the USB ports and resetting them.

And, it worked.

My iPod is syncing right now.

I'm sooooo happy. Not just because I will have fresh podcasts to listen to at the gym this morning, but because I was thisclose to picking out a new computer at J&R last night.

* * *

I might be crazy in other ways. I'm starting to get easily freaked out by dirt. Not, really, in any way more than the average person I think, but it's a shift for me to notice certain things. Like at the gym, I am acutely aware when a person ahead of me on a weight machine isn't carrying a towel, so will not be wiping down before I get on. I fully indulge my passive-aggessive streak and make a great show of wiping down after them with my own towel, before I get on. (Usually they don't notice, so I've actually started with the dirty looks and scowling, as if this will get their attention more.) My latest terror was seeing two different women sit their naked bottoms on the wooden benches in the locker room. You know, the benches where I set my clean clothing, my make up bag, and often my own fully clothed butt as I put on my shoes. Well, now I put down towels before I do any of that, but really, shouldn't the naked ass women be laying out towels? I don't sit naked on furniture at home, why would I do it at they gym?

I like to believe my reaction (well, not the passive-aggressive scowling) is within the realm of normal, but I don't remember noticing these types of things before. Maybe they were always happening and I was oblivious (what you don't know doesn't hurt you.) Or maybe other people's habits have just become more gross.

* * *

Yesterday was sooooo dead at work. Can you tell by the increase in blog entries? So you'll trust me when I say, talk to you later.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I put up a profile on a singles site. I have gotten a few responses, but mostly just "smiles," which are people who haven't paid for full access to the site, which means they can't send actual emails, but can send you a smile email that you can respond to and initiate the conversation. If you want to, after reviewing their profiles. And photos.

Now, I don't have a photo up yet because I don't have a current one and I don't want to put up an old photo. I think that's false advertising. I met a guy once from a personal ad (and I mean that literally, I met only ONE ever so far in my life - more on him later), and I walked right past him because he looked ten years older than his photo. His hair was completely saturated with gray, while he had thick dark hair in the photo. (He actually told me once that he was offended when another women he met told him she thought it false advertising that he used an old photo! But I, of course, completely saw her point.) On another site, I never put up a photo, and was told by several men that if I didn't, I'd never get serious responses, because men are shallow.

I don't know if that's true all of the time, especially on this site, which is a liberal vegetarian hippy-dippy site. I gave it a try because I don't think I really fit in on some of the other more materialism-focused sites. But I'm not sure I like this one either. Before I set up my profile, I found several that were interesting to me - age appropriate (within 3 years on either side), local, not too "out there," artistic, and reasonably good-looking. I haven't "smiled" at any, because I'd rather have my photo up before I do, but in the meantime, I've gotten about a half dozen smiles and two emails.

I haven't answered any. I figured the holidays are a good cover for not responding quickly. And, yet, I don't really want to respond at all, because:

1) the age thing. The guy mentioned above is a perfect example of what infuriates me about the whole dating thing - he was 42 and felt it was perfectly acceptable to limit the age range for the women he was seeking to 25-32. (This is one of many reasons we knew we weren't compatible, even before we met in person.) I set my age range for 39-49 (I'm 44.) Anyhow, most of the responses I've gotten are from men 55 or so. That just seems really old to me, and I don't think I'm being hypocritical. Am I?

2) the hair thing. God, yes, I really am that shallow. I'm pretty okay with most things - I don't know men's fashion designers so don't really care what a man wears as long as it's neat and clean, and I'm pretty open to height or weight, but I draw the line at long hair. I hate long hair on men. I find it really unattractive and it's a huge turn off for me. Unfortunately, men who look for women on this site tend to be of the long-haired, post-hippy type. Not all, but most of the ones that have responded to my profile. I feel like a bitch even writing about it here, so how could I put it in my profile?

I'm tempted to delete my profile and write a new one under a new name when I finally find a photo. Wimp!!!!

What's that you say?

Confession: sometimes I have no idea what people are talking about. Often, a person will start updating me on a topic/situation and I honestly have no clue as to the background, but I hesitate to interrupt them because I'm pretty sure they told me before and I a) forgot (which is rude because it shows that I'm not that interested in the topic, or worse, not that interested in them or b) I wasn't paying attention the first time (admitting which, of course, would be rude.) I'm not generally one to ask a lot of questions during a conversation; I tend to let a person tell me what they want to tell me, but not pester for details. I have a friend who is the opposite; she's naturally curious, friendly and smart, and will always react to something with very direct and inquisitive responses. Sometimes it feels like the third degree, and I won't always open up to her if I don't have the energy to handle her inevitable follow-up. ("Were you expecting that? How did it make you feel? What did other people say? What are you going to do now?" etc. )

So sometimes I get a bit of confusing information and I'm stupidly frozen. Today, for instance, I received an email from a friend who is out visiting family on the west coast, and she referenced a recent move she made. Did she tell me she was moving? Did I know this? She tends to ramble a lot on the phone and I know I was multi-tasking during our last call. Do I admit that I am clueless and ask for more info? Sadly, my normal cowardly way of handling these situations is to just play along, hoping I'll get more clues as the other person continues talking. It doesn't always work out, because I'm always trying to catch up. Or my other, outgoing friend, will hear about whatever it is and ask me for some detail I know nothing about. "Oh, so-and-so is moving? Was it because of the neighbors? Did she break her lease?" And I have to admit I don't know, didn't ask, didn't even think to ask.

Do other people have this happen to them?

On the other hand, a former co-worker emailed me something about "signing the contract for the egg book" and I really have no idea what that means, but am 100% positive I have no reason to know. We haven't spoken to each other in over a year, and as far as I recall, there was no book contract, about eggs or anything else, in her future. So this is a mystery worth pursuing...

USB is a dirty word.

Oh, still no working USB ports. I've tried almost all of the fixes recommended by the Gateway online support technician, except for a full system recovery/backup and reinstallation of all software. That involves digging out my original documentation, hoping I actually have the installation disks that should have come with the computer (I would, if they did, but last time I had an issue with an older computer there were no disks, despite what HP said) and committing to several hours of sitting here, tense and anxious. And what if it still doesn't work? I'd be devastated. At least now I have one last option to try, so there's hope.

I guess that's pretty twisted. Part of me wonders if it's just time to buy a new computer, but that is a cop out if I can get this one working. It's been just about two years since I bought it, so not exactly time to upgrade, but fairly close. Of course I could keep this one as a backup, since the only thing (so far) that is a problem is that without USB connections, I can't print, sync my iPod, sync my Treo, use my wireless mouse, etc. But I can write to CDs and connect to the internet.

MY GOD. As if to torment me, just as I started to type this entry, my USB port icon in my toolbar is popping up a "USB Device Not Recognized" message over and over and over and over. I've been sitting here for an hour, without one. I've worked on this computer for several hours since the trouble first started on Sunday, without seeing that message every five seconds. Has something else gone wrong, or is my computer trying to talk to me about something????

I need to go to work.

The Harriet the Spy Syndrome

One of my favorite childhood books was "Harriet the Spy." Of course. She was a writer, creative, daring, misunderstood. I loved all the details of the neighbors she spied on and wrote about in her notebook, and saw that the creation of vivid interesting characters was a skill I needed to develop. But each time I read it, I'd be struck by the terrible situation Harriet would find herself in near the end of the book, when her notebook is discovered and circulated and each of her classmates, including her close friends, is hurt and offended by what she's written about them.

This is the fear that gets in the way of my writing anything too personal in this blog, of truly opening up. It's not just that I am reluctant to give personal information that would clearly identify me (although I am), but more that if a friend or relative were to stumble on this and read something I wrote about them, they'd be hurt. I'd be Harriet, suddenly sitting alone on a schoolyard bench, cut out of the club.

Speaking of Harriet, I once tutored a young Bronx girl who had to read the book for school. She didn't like it, and as I tried to share with her my own fascination with the book, I realized that her ability to enjoy the fun of Harriet's spy adventures was overwhelmed by her inability to relate to the trappings of her life. Harriet's biggest trauma is that her nanny, who has been her primary caretaker/confidante since she was born, is leaving her. Harriet has two wealthy parents who love her, but it's "Ole Golly" who she fights losing. How could an impoverished inner city girl who has never had the luxury of two parents understand that? Rich white girls and their problems aren't exactly going to resonate when you're wondering if your mom will be sober when you get home or when your brother is getting out of jail.

In the movie "Harriet the Spy," Rosie O'Donnell played Ole Golly. This disturbed me greatly, as the Ole Golly in my mind was a tall skinny wrinkly old woman. I think it may have been the illustrations of the original version of the book I owned, or maybe the way I interpreted her, but she wasn't anything like Rosie O'Donnell.

* * *

On the way back from an upstate family visit yesterday, I had three or four blog entries dancing in my head. I can't find them now, my brain is slowly moving through its caffeine-free wake up, but today promises to be a quiet day at work so maybe I'll return with something incredibly fascinating for you.

[Gerald Ford has passed away. Forgive me if I admit I thought he already had. I can't be alone in that, can I?]

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Mediocre Shepherd

Holiday weekend, three days off, two movies. Struck out with both, too. Okay, "The Good Shepherd" isn't as mediocre as "Bobby," but it's still not very good. It tries to be too much: the story of the development of the CIA, a spy thriller centered on the Bay of Pigs invasion, and a family drama. That's not to say that a compelling movie couldn't be made with all of these elements, or that they need to be isolated, but something didn't work with the pacing and progression of the storylines. I personally would have cut all of the CIA history stuff; the individual spy missions that are detailed are generally isolated from other actions and somewhat confusing. If it were just the one big spy mystery? With a little bit of family thrown in? That might have been a great movie. And it wouldn't have been over 3 hours. (Trust me, I didn't know that going in or I'd have thought twice about it.)

IMDB describes the plot as this:

Edward Wilson, the only witness to his father's suicide and member of the Skull and Bones Society while a student at Yale, is a morally upright young man who values honor and discretion, qualities that help him to be recruited for a career in the newly founded Central Intelligence Agency. While working there, his ideals gradually turn to suspicion influenced by the Cold War paranoia present within the office. Eventually, he becomes an influential veteran operative, while his distrust of everyone around him increases to no end. His dedication to his work does not come without a price though, leading him to sacrifice his ideals and eventually his family.
That sounds like a really interesting film. Unfortunately, it's not this one.

[A flock of seagulls just swooped past my window. This is not a joke. They joined a pile of pigeons eating at something spilled onto the street (garbage? I think I see a pizza crust.) I know that seagulls are scavengers like pigeons and rats, and that I live fairly close to the ocean, but I've never seen so many outside my window.]

Did I mention I hate computers?

My computer is fucked. All of my USB ports are not working, continually reporting "USB Device Not Recognized" errors. This occurs with my wireless mouse, my flash drive, and my printer connection, so it's not just one malfunctioning device. Windows offers no solutions (surprise) beyond re-installing the drivers, but their troubleshooting is limited to an individual device not working, not all of them. Logic tells me that it's something wrong with the USB hardware, not the drivers - is it possible something just wipes out your drivers all at once, and does nothing else to the rest of your computer? Anyway, I can't keep trying to figure it out, because it's driving me insane. I am not in the mood to install all of these drivers just to find out it's not that. On the other hand, if I don't, I won't be able to: print, update my iPod, unload my camera, or sync my Treo. Seriously, why isn't there a friendly knowledgeable computer fix-it store anywhere?

A great way to start Christmas! I'm heading out to visit family later today, so there promises to be a festive end to the day.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My computer is out to get me.

My computer died a few minutes ago. Like, flat-lined. It wouldn't turn back on, so I turned it over and started unscrewing what I thought might be the battery door, and it started humming. And then came on. But now I can't access anything through the USB ports. I had just plugged in my wireless mouse when it died, so maybe there was a short there or something? I don't know. I can't deal with this now.

I am also fighting with My Space. Yeah, that's pretty infantile. But I once had a profile there, so long ago that it has my old email address not my current one. I tried to update my email address, and get this, you can request a change but they send the confirmation to your OLD email address. If your old email address isn't accessible, you are supposed to be able to email them to have it changed. But when I did? They just sent me back the same old instructions on how to change it, including the notice that I had to check my OLD email for the confirmation. Then I figured I'd just delete the whole profile, but, lo and behold, the deletion must be verified via a confirmation they send to... your email address (which in my case, is still my old in accessible one. See catch 22 above.) So I email them to complain and they send me an email telling me how to cancel, again, verbatim, without even taking into account... oh, god, who cares, really. I'm too old for this.

Merry Christmas Eve! I'm going to be a bad girl and order take out Chinese food. Definitely NOT on the healthy eating plan, but it's a tradition.

Bobby and Pretty Birds

What can I say about "Bobby"? It's one of the most unevenly frustrating movies I've seen this year. There are the moving snippets of actual footage of Robert F. Kennedy campaigning at the start of the film, and the emotional wallop of his assassination at the end. In between, there is a bunch of stuff about a bunch of people you don't care about, not because they are fictional, but because they are thinly drawn and, for the most part, badly acted. We probably spend 10-15 minutes total with each, which isn't much to develop a storyline that an audience can embrace, so you're left with sappy platitudes delivered by celebrities who you don't get time to see as any character but their own public persona. (Ashton Kutcher as a drug dealer - haha! Did he pick this up from when Tommy Chong was on "That 70's Show"? Wait, were they even on the show at the same time? Is that a wig? Oh, look it's Demi Moore. Did they share a trailer? Did she get him the job? Oh, wait, am I supposed to be paying attention?)

The film made me hunger for a good documentary bio about RFK. I don't feel like I know much about him. I was 6 when he died, and 1 when JFK was killed, but for some reason, it's JFK's assassination that seems more in my psyche. "Bobby" wants you to believe that the death of RFK dashed the hopes of America, but I was under the impression that we were numb by then, numb by the loss of Martin Luther King, Jr., not to mention the first Kennedy assassination. In the film you hear that losing MLK was tragic, "but at least we still had Bobby." I guess I was too young to harbor those hopes, and I suppose my parents (still in their 20's, saddled with young children and a deteriorating marriage) didn't impart any of those dreams on us. When I think of Bobby Kennedy I think of the attorney general who supposedly hushed up his brother's affairs, who may have also slept with Marilyn Monroe, who conspiracy theorists proclaim was involved with her death.

My grasp of history is woefully thin.

I just finished reading "Pretty Birds," a novel by Scott Simon about a young teenage girl living in Sarajevo in 1992. It took me several re-reads of the first few chapters to clarify the difference between Bosnians and Serbs, and understand who was fighting whom. It made me feel stupid, and yet, at the same time, made reading the novel more interesting because I was learning something new.

I suppose I can give similar credit to "Bobby," that it taught me something I didn't know. But it's just not that good a film so I hesitate to give it anything but an unqualified "Don't bother."

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I really got into "Dexter," the new series on Showtime that just ended its first season. Not a typical show for me, as it's about a serial killer, and I'm all about skipping anything that promises to be too violent. But it is a smart show, with a great cast (who knew that milquetoast David Fischer of "Six Feet Under" could be so menacing, and so... hot?) and a riveting mystery. It had enough complexity that I didn't see the answers coming right away, but still was able to figure it out (some of it) and gain some pleasure at my own ingenuity.

Michael C. Hall plays Dexter, a blood splatter specialist with the Miami PD. Unlike those other forensic procedural shows, he isn't surrounded by a bunch of incompetent nothings who allow him to do their jobs as well (my biggest complaint about the CSI franchise.) He sticks to, well, blood, offering his expertise when required and letting the detectives (including his sister) solve the crimes. That is, when he isn't using non-approved means to find those that escape the law, and then exacting his own secret revenge. It's not 100% believable that he gets away with it, but who better to leave a pristine crime scene than a forensics expert? And there is at least one detective who suspects he has a dark side.

There is, of course, a lot of blood. Oddly enough, though, the one bit I can't watch comes during the opening credits, during a montage of Dexter getting ready for work in the morning. It's a wonderful series of close up moments, sizzling with sound and sensation: a razor blade sliding along a cheek, an egg dropping into a pan, a piece of ham being sliced, the sound of a lace poking through a shoe's eyelets. And yet, I have to turn my head when a piece of dental floss twists around Dexter's finger and he raises his hand toward his mouth. That I can't watch.

Can't wait for next season.

Oh, in contrast, I tried watching "Monk" once. Just once. I was appalled by how stupid the
"mystery" was - about as difficult to figure out as one of the old "Murder She Wrote" episodes. And the away that he came to "solve" it was preposterous. It insulted my intelligence so badly I have not been able to attempt another episode. I think the draw of the show must be in the quirkiness of the character, but hey, Dexter is quirky (albeit in a darker way - did I mention that he collects and saves a drop of blood from each of his victims?) and still manages to be involved in smart mysteries.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Airplane Entertainment

So why is it that I can be on an airplane with a good book, a notebook with a half-finished story, a half-written letter to a good friend, and a copy of the New Yorker and I still find myself drawn to the free TV being broadcast to the little individual screens at each and every seat? I watched "Deal or No Deal," which I'd never had any interest in seeing at home, and then followed that up with an "Identity" chaser. Two hours of mediocre TV.

During commercials I turned to A&E, which was airing their own movie "Flight 93" (not to be confused by "United 93," although I'm confused as to why we needed both.) (Yes, I know that two Capote movies were released recently, etc., but this seems different somehow. Maybe I'm biased.) It's disturbing to watch a plane being hijacked while you're sitting on a plane, but it didn't stop me from returning to it periodically. It was almost as if I wanted to see how much it would bother me, or how much I could stand.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Off to the wild blue

I'm going away! For almost a week. I am stressed from trying to transition from work-mode to pack-and-travel-mode, but in less than 24 hours I will be at my destination.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stranger than a Holiday

Yesterday I wanted to see "The Holiday," which meant leaving the comfort of the home neighborhood for a theater in Manhattan. Luckily it was playing just down the block from a store that was essential to my holiday shopping, so I hopped the subway and went in. And, somehow, screwed up the starting times (how? I have instant access at all times via Vindigo on my Treo), and arrived at the theater in between showings. But just in time for "Stranger than Fiction." So, instead of light pretty mediocre chick-flick, I get that weirdly-reviewed film that looked good but disappeared. I mean, it did, right? I haven't heard much about it after that first week.

Maybe because it's about a writer with writer's block and the process of writing, but I enjoyed it. I walked away thinking that if it didn't star Will Ferrell and had less promotional dollars behind it, it would have been a gem of a small indie comedy. I mean, it had Maggie Gyllenhaal. But also Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman, not your usual small indie players.

I would have loved it if not for Will Ferrell. First of all, his attempt at a serious quiet nerd came across as bland, empty, and uninteresting. Seriously, it's a struggle to accept that Gyllenhaal (playing the usual funky-yet-lovable goofball) would ever fall for him, especially not in the short time frame we're shown. She's a thousand times more interesting and more attractive than he is. I admit I'm biased when it comes to Ferrell - I find him singularly unattractive. The long face, tiny close eyes, brillo hair. Shudder. (I think it's similar to my aversion to Justin Timberlake, whom I find physically repulsive.) Now, someone like John Cusack would have been believable - he could pull off the nerd but bring a bit of the hot as well.

I'm unbelievably shallow.

And that theater didn't even have very good popcorn.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

the Queen and I

Note to self: When buying soda in a movie theater from a distracted employee, insert straw for a taste test before climbing two flights of stairs to your movie, settling into your chair, and watching the previews and opening credits. The surprise of sugary Coke vs. the anticipated Diet Coke is jarring, although not enough to jar you from your seat and miss any of the movie.

There's not much to say about "The Queen" because of course, as you've heard, it's very good, and Helen Mirren is wonderful. I've been a big fan of hers since catching "Prime Suspect" on PBS. (I own most of the series on DVD, and look for the remaining episodes whenever I am in a DVD store - which reminds me, I need to add the missing ones to my Amazon wish list before my friends and family finish holiday shopping.) She is really good in this role, albeit this is an opinion of someone who has only a fleeting sense of what the queen really looks like. I liked the actor playing Tony Blair a lot, too, and the story is presented in the only way I can tolerate historical/biographical/"based on a true story" dramas: a confined timeframe, a focused theme, in depth character study. Sometimes it feels like you're watching Helen Mirren's Oscar submission, but the material is interesting enough to make it feel worth two hours.

I took off work yesterday to get some holiday shopping done, and boy did I. On Thursday I was given a performance award that included a $250 cash award; in one hour in Target I managed to spend $263. I made the mistake of grabbing a big shopping cart when I went in; one of those handheld baskets would have kept my spending in check, plus ensured that I could actually carry everything I purchased. I mean, I managed, but I had to take subway to bus to minimize walking.

But really I got some great stuff. Lots of toys for the kids in the family, DVDs and books, kitchen stuff, gift boxes, a few shirts. Nothing over $25, most under $15, which does add up when you've accumulated enough. I'm seriously close to finishing my shopping - just a handful of other things. I'm also knitting some gifts, which just takes time.

It was bitter cold yesterday, with low temperatures and strong winds, but I find it more inspiring to do my holiday shopping that way. Snow flurries would have been even better! Yeah, I know, I'm crazy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Thanksgiving weekend I met a young couple, an Asian man and white woman, and their young toddler daughter. In my mind I have associated the San Francisco couple missing in Oregon with these people I've just met. I am convinced that is the reason why when I read this, I found myself crying uncontrollably.


The technician showed it to me: a clean cut, recent. He didn't think it could be from my last service call a few months ago. Who the hell is fucking with my cable service? Is it directed at me, or just someone trying to steal from the cable company? I naturally think about my conversation with the store owner downstairs, who was expressing his frustration about not having high speed internet access and how the cable company wanted to charge him 3X as much because he's a business. I need to go downstairs and let him know what I've decided about giving him access to my wireless router, but I'm afraid if I do so now I'm going to wind up accusing him of hanky panky.

I don't care what people do - if they can sleep at night after stealing cable, fine - but if they do something that impacts another person? Like, say, ME? That's unforgiveable.

Cable Salvation?

This afternoon, the cable company is sending a technician to address my service issue. I'm heading home from work to be there for the obligatory 4 hour window. In my long history of waiting for service technicians, I've generally been lucky enough to have them arrive closer to the start of the window than the end. Of course the challenge today is that I have neither cable television nor internet to keep me from going stir crazy as I wait. I can "work from home" by checking email on my Treo, I can watch DVDs, and I can read a book. I could even get some writing time in! But I can't leave my apartment, I can't go online, and I can't go to Showtime on Demand and catch up on the two episodes of Dexter I've missed.

I have friends and relatives who don't have cable (some don't have televisons), and don't have high-speed internet access. (I don't think I know anyone who has no internet access at all; even my most hippy-granola anti-pop-culture acquaintances are online these days.) Many of them would not understand the urgency behind my service call. And I'm really not that much of a tv addict - I've imposed limits on how much I watch, the most strict being a "no daytime tv" rule which comes into play mostly on weekends and holidays. I simply do not turn on my tv until dinner time, because if I did, I'd easily sit and veg and get nothing done. (The rule can be broken if I have a long boring indoor activity, like painting or cleaning the refrigerator, where the tv can be on in the background if there is no radio program worth listening to.)

The internet is different, though. I wake up and have breakfast at my computer, checking out favorite websites, reading emails, working on my online writing class, etc. On weekends I'll listen to public radio shows through my computer and pay bills and balance my banking accounts. My computer is always on, my modem always connected.

I've had so many problems with my cable modem connection (and now my tv) that I'm seriously thinking I won't be happy until I move. So far the issues have usually been something outside my apartment - someone trying to tap into my connection at the outside box, or something out there needing to be replaced. I love the idea of a building that is newly wired for everything. My god, outlets. I have almost no outlets - each has a power strip with way too many items plugged in. I want a renovated apartment with new wiring.

I'll stop whining now. Should get back to work and be relatively productive for the few hours I'm here today.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Is it just me?

Why don't hotels put plastic liners in the trash cans in hotel rooms? Isn't that more sanitary, and doesn't it make it easier to empty and keep them clean? Last night I had an apple core and I had to wrap it in toilet paper before dropping into the trash, because letting it hit the naked metal bottom of the can just seemed so... gross.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Trying not to hate Time Warner Cable

Yeah, having no internet connection sucks. I managed to snag onto the unsecured wireless network in my building this morning, but this afternoon, it was suddenly secured. What a time for my neighbor to get a clue. So here I sit in the Tea Lounge down the block, using their complimentary free wireless, trying to think of everything I tried to do today but couldn't, before I walk out of here and back to the Stone Age. Of course I still have a working computer, and I get my email on my Treo, so it's just pure web-surfing that I am missing.

This place is set up to be like your family's living room: sofas, chairs, oriental rugs. So much like home that the guy across from me is comfortable enough to put his shoeless feet up on the coffee table. Fun!

Tomorrow I go out of town for a day/night, and you know I'll work that hotel's wireless internet in my room to death...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Wireless-less and Luggage

My cable is out again, only this time it's the cable modem, as well as both tvs. I really hoped it was more than me, that it was something to do with the weather last night (heavy rain, winds) but no, it's just me. Right now I'm stealing internet access from a neighbor's unsecured wireless router, and since we still can't get DSL in this building, he must have a working cable modem. Anyway, I'm tired of dealing with cable problems. I can't wait to move.

I have the bug because several members of my family have moved in the last month, and now a friend just informed me she and her husband bought a house. I'm also approaching my 13th anniversary in this apartment, which is more than 2x as long as I've lived anywhere in my entire life. I'm antsy for a change. I dream continually that I've found a new apartment. I have some financial commitments right now that I can't control, but hopefully I'll be able to actually look for something to buy soon.

Today I appeased my urge by buying new luggage. Well, a carry-on, but a nice big one. I took my old luggage (two pieces) to the thrift store, thinking all the way there, "good riddance," but as I walked away from them I felt an odd sense of sadness. Those bags and I took many a journey together in the past 20 years. Weird to think of where they might wind up next, without me this time.
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